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Keywords:

  • Biofilm;
  • Microgravity;
  • Spaceflight;
  • Bacterial adhesion;
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa

Abstract

Although biofilm formation is widely documented on Earth, it has not been demonstrated in the absence of gravity. To explore this possibility, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, suspended in sterile buffer, was flown in a commercial payload on space shuttle flight STS-95. During earth orbit, biofilm formation was induced by exposing the bacteria to sterile media through a 0.2-μm (pore size) polycarbonate membrane. Examination of these membranes by confocal microscopy revealed biofilms to be present and that these biofilms could persist in spite of vigorous agitation. These results represent the first report of biofilm formation under microgravity conditions.